Arkansas Children’s Research Institute garners $1.9 million for NIH study

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 275 views 

Arkansas Children’s Research Institute will receive $1.9 million as part of a seven-year, $157 million initiative announced Wednesday (Sept. 21) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how children’s health is affected by their environment.

The Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program will investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development – from conception through early childhood – influences the health of children and adolescents.

The initial $1.9 million ECHO grant will be spread over over four years, funding the infrastructure for a network that will connect children to clinical trials so they have better access to drugs that can improve and save their lives.

ACRI will form a group to be known as Arkansas Center for Advancing Pediatric Therapeutics to conduct the clinical trials in association with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as part of the ECHO initiative. This will give children in Arkansas the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of early phase clinical trials for infants, children and adolescents as new drugs and therapies are created.

“This new award from NIH will enable Arkansas Children’s to not only become part of a new, national network designed to conduct novel clinical trials of great importance to children but also enable us to launch an exciting new facet of our institution’s research program,” said ACRI President Dr. Gregory Kearns, who also a member of the World Health Organization’s Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Evaluation.

He said the main objective assessment of treatments will be intended to make children better today and healthier tomorrow. Kearns is Arkansas Children’s senior vice president and chief research officer and serves as a professor of Pediatrics at UAMS.

ARCI said children are largely under-represented in clinical trials, especially in rural states like Arkansas. Research published in Pediatrics in 2012 indicates that for every 10 adult clinical trials, less than one drug is studied in children. The goal of this new initiative is to make the trials more accessible to children. The initiative will look at interventions in neonatology, asthma, endocrine disorders and diabetes and obesity.

The initiate will be led Kearns and Dr. Laura James, associate vice chancellor for clinical and translational research at UAMS. James is also a professor of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine.